1 out of 50 new jobs in the United States came from the solar industry last year

❝ The number of jobs created to make, sell and install solar panels in the U.S. grew at a record pace last year, and grew much faster than the overall American economy, which is welcome news for the solar industry in the face of policy uncertainty.

❝ The new figures were issued recently courtesy of a new report from The Solar Foundation. The report — the seventh annual edition to come from the nonprofit — found that there were 260,077 solar workers as of November 2016, which represents nearly 25 percent growth from the amount of solar jobs recorded the year prior. In comparison, jobs in the overall U.S. economy grew at a rate of 1.45 percent.

❝ Last year’s solar market performance made 2016 the fourth consecutive year that U.S. solar jobs grew by 20 percent or more, the report found. It also made for some eye-popping figures, like how 1 out of every 50 new jobs, or 2 percent of new jobs, created in the U.S. in 2016 came from the solar industry…

The solar industry is an American success story,” said Andrea Luecke, executive director of The Solar Foundation, and these numbers “are proof positive” of that. “Despite partisanship and the election, people really do love solar. Every poll says so. Even conservative Republicans favor solar,” added Luecke.

❝ While Trump has said he’s in favor of job creation from any energy sector, he emphasized the fossil fuel industries during his campaign.

Like his peers in all factions in the Republican Party and the US Chamber of Commerce, the fossil fuel barons own his testicles.

❝ Forty-one percent of the current solar jobs in the U.S. are in residential solar installations, and workers get paid on average $26 per hour, the report found. In 2017, residential solar jobs are expected to see the biggest growth in comparison to other solar sectors, which will likely continue for years to come.

Electricity has only come to full use in economies offering providers the same grants and discounts common to oil and gas providers for decades. Our government still provides billion$ in tax dollar to fossil fuel corporate giants – in every administration. Subsidies for electric cars and solar home installations are building on an even playing ground…for the first time.

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Sell-by dates on food are about to become more realistic


Click to enlarge

❝ On Wednesday, the Food Marketing Institute and the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the two largest trade groups for the grocery industry, announced that they’ve adopted standardized, voluntary regulations to clear up what product date labels mean. Where manufacturers now use any of 10 separate label phrases, ranging from “expires on” to “better if used by,” they’ll now be encouraged to use only two: “Use By” and “Best if Used By.”

The former is a safety designation, meant to indicate when perishable foods are no longer good. “Best if Used By” is a quality descriptor — a subjective guess of when the manufacturer thinks the product should be consumed for peak flavor.

❝ That’s what most “use-by” dates indicate now, though studies have shown that many consumers believe they signal whether a product is okay to eat. In fact, it’s totally fine to eat a product even well after its so-called expiration date.

❝ These dates typically indicate one of two things: a message from the manufacturer to the grocery store, telling the store when the product will look best on shelves, or a subjective measure — often little more than a guess — of when consumers will most “enjoy” the product. Methods for setting those dates have been left to manufacturers, rather like the phrasing of the labels themselves…

❝ Advocates and environmentalists have been warning for years that many people interpret date labels as a sign that food is no longer good to eat. As a result, one industry survey found, 91 percent of consumers have mistakenly thrown away past-date food, when the label only signals the manufacturer’s guess at its peak quality.

❝ Shoppers shouldn’t expect to see the new labels the next time they buy groceries; the change won’t be immediate. While FMI and GMA are urging manufacturers and retailers to make it now, they have until July 2018. Even then, the standards are voluntary, so there’s no guarantee that they’ll be adopted by every single company.

RTFA for more discussion, inevitable state vs federal standards. You’re going to have to pick your way through a bit of crap legalese, no doubt. The market will have to sort out the rest.

Millennials are moving less than preceding generations


How can you tolerate missing out on this?

Americans are moving at the lowest rate on record, and recently released Census Bureau data show that a primary reason is that Millennials are moving significantly less than earlier generations of young adults.

In 2016, only 20% of Millennial 25- to 35-year-olds reported having lived at a different address one year earlier. One-year migration rates were much higher for older generations when they were the same age. For example, when members of the Silent Generation were ages 25 to 35 back in 1963, 26% reported moving within the prior year. And in 2000, when those in Generation X were the age that older Millennials are today, 26% of them reported having moved in the previous year…

It may seem counterintuitive that Millennials would be contributing to a trend toward less geographic mobility. After all, according to Pew Research Center analysis of Current Population Survey data, they are less likely than earlier generations to have three things that tend to be impediments to moving for a young adult:

A spouse…A house…A child…So, if Millennials are less hampered by spouses, houses and kids, why are they moving less than previous generations did at their age?

Labor market opportunities may be a factor. Millennials were hit hard by the Great Recession in terms of job-holding and wages. For many young adults who moved in the past year, job opportunities were a prime motivation for moving, and the modest jobs recovery may not be providing the impetus Millennials need.

RTFA. Interesting, provoking. To my mind – which still thinks it’s 26 years old and keys in on non-conformity to cultural traits and standards stuck into the past – all mostly positive developments.

Ivanka Trump fashions dropped by Nordstrom following boycott


“Can I blow in your ear?”

❝ Fashion retailer Nordstrom has dropped a clothing line by Ivanka Trump.

It’s after campaigners called for a boycott on stores doing business with the president’s family. But the company blames the move on poor sales.

❝ The US firm says it makes “buying decisions based on performance” and that cutting brands “is part of the regular rhythm of our business”…

❝ The #GrabYourWallet campaign urged customers to boycott firms which have supported the Trumps.

It was started by two women angry about the president’s comments about women which came out in October.

❝ Co-founder Shannon Coulter reacted on Twitter, saying: “Big news everyone. You did this. I am in awe #GrabYourWallet.

“Those who voted against Donald control $7 trillion in spending.

“Never forget it. Never forget our power. Together, we can change a lot.”

A bit more detail in the article including Nordstrom softpedaling on the boycott. Folks just “stopped buying the Ivanka brand”. Same as a boycott as far as I read.

Siemens cuts development time, produces 3D-printed turbine blades


Siemens AG

❝ Siemens has successfully completed a test of 3D-printed blades to be used in gas turbines, the latest development in a technology that has become increasingly popular with automakers, rival General Electric, Nike and aerospace giants like Boeing.

According to Reuters, Siemens said the test, which it called a “breakthrough,” was the first of its kind. The test took place under full-load engine conditions at temperatures above 2,282 degrees Fahrenheit…

❝ The blades, composed of a polycrystalline nickel superalloy, were made by U.K. manufacturer Materials Solutions, Reuters said. Siemens bought Materials Solutions last year.

The 3D-printing technology allowed Siemens to bring the gas turbine blades from the design phase to the testing phase within two months, a process that typically takes two years…It was unclear when the blades might go into production

❝ General Electric last year also purchased two European 3D printing companies, and has developed a jet engine via 3-D printing. Boeing has also used the technology, also known as additive manufacturing, to make tools and parts. Nike has also used the technology to design shoes.

Still no summation of cost vs time in a production process. I remain willing to be convinced that 3D printing is useful especially for prototyping – as in this case. Long-term production needs? Not so certain.

NAFTA, global trade deals, aren’t what killed American manufacturing jobs

❝ Politically speaking, there was no debate on United States international trade agreements in 2016: All politicians seeking to win a national election, or even to create a party-spanning political coalition, agree that our trade agreements are bad things.

❝ From the left, we had Democratic presidential primary runner-up Bernie Sanders — and a remarkably close runner-up he was — slamming trade. From the — I do not think it’s wrong but it’s not quite correct to call it “right,” at least not as Americans have hitherto understood what “right” is — but from somewhere, we had now-President Donald Trump. Listen to them: The rhetoric is the same.

❝ And what did we hear from the center establishment? We had…Hillary Rodham Clinton: “I will stop any trade deal that kills jobs or holds down wages, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership. I oppose it now, I’ll oppose it after the election, and I’ll oppose it as president…”…

❝ The political truthiness has been flying thick and fast on this subject for decades now. Politicians are taking claims that have a very tenuous connection to economic reality — claims that feel true — and running with them, sometimes out of ignorance, sometimes because of cynical calculation…

❝ Yes, America has been losing manufacturing job share at a furious rate. Yes, the spread between the incomes of the non-college-educated and the college-educated has widened massively. Yes, the spread between the incomes of even the college-educated and our overclass has exploded.

But this is not due to NAFTA. This is not due to bringing China into the WTO rather than keeping it out. This is not due to the not-yet-completed — and now never-to-be-completed — TPP…

❝ To defend trade deals is not to say that US economic policy has been without fault

To be clear, I do think American international economic policy has been far, far from perfect. I could rant with the best of them about our failure to be a capital-exporting nation financing the industrialization of the world, a role from which we would ultimately benefit both economically and politically. I can rant about our reluctance to properly incentivize the creation and maintenance of the global treasures that are our communities of engineering practice…

❝ But the never-to-be-implemented TPP? NAFTA? And China-WTO? They are not big parts of any picture. They are not a big part of the long-run decline in the manufacturing job share. Indeed, they barely register among the flaws in US international economic policy.

By and large, the jobs that we shed as a result of NAFTA and China-WTO were low-paying jobs that we did not really want. Because of NAFTA and China-WTO, we have been able to buy a lot of good stuff much cheaper — which means we have had more income to spend on other things and to pay people to do other, more useful things than work on low-productivity blue-collar assembly lines.

❝ The elephant in the room is the collapse over the past three generations of the manufacturing employment share here in America.

A manufacturing job making things in a factory is no longer, in any sense, a typical job for Americans. A sector of the economy that provided three out of 10 nonfarm jobs at the start of the 1950s and one in four nonfarm jobs at the start of the 1970s now provides fewer than one in 11 nonfarm jobs today. Proportionally, the United States has shed almost two-thirds of relative manufacturing employment since 1971…

RTFA. Please. It’s long and detailed in premises and proofs. That doesn’t make economics or thoroughgoing history more enjoyable; but, it surely helps with understanding.

❝ But — as professor DeLong concludes — even here in America, you can, as you definitely can elsewhere, mobilize a great deal of populist energy by identifying foreigners as the enemy. I do not think this is an impulse that it is healthy for any part of this country. I do not think this is something any political movement that seeks to do anything other than destroy can dare to encourage…The economic case against the two agreements that passed, and the one that did not, doesn’t hold water. It’s clear, however, that candidates can make an effective political case against trade agreements — and that scares me.

What’s one thing you would change about the global economy?

❝ How can we create, as Oxfam’s Winnie Byanyima puts it in this article, “an economy that works for the 99% “ and not just the fortunate few?

We asked 10 Davos participants for their thoughts; here’s what they had to say.

Diane Coyle, Professor of Economics, University of Manchester

❝ I would pay teachers at schools in poor communities such high wages that the very best people would want to take the job. That’s not the only change needed in education. We must also think more seriously about the skills our children will need for the world they’ll graduate into, and how to equip them with those skills. And the needs will differ from place to place, so more local control over education policy would make sense, too. But the top priority should be getting society’s most talented people on the task of preventing whole communities from falling further and further behind.

Kenneth Rogoff, Thomas D. Cabot Professor of Public Policy and Professor of Economics, Harvard University

❝ …Trade protectionism will not bring back disappearing manufacturing jobs to the United States or Europe. Instead it will only raise prices of many goods that low-income consumers depend on, and accelerate the pace of mechanization. The best solution to inequality in advanced economies lies in greater redistribution through taxes and transfers, and in improved – and more equal – education at all levels…

Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation

❝ …Wage share continues to fall further behind both productivity and profits. People are fighting back at the ballot box but tragically the alternatives offered by populist political leaders, with people excluded by race, religion, gender or sexual preference, will not offer inclusive solutions. Governments are caught in the web of corporate capture and fail to regulate or to defend their own people by prosecuting corporations for human and labour rights abuse. Tax fraud and unjust corporate tax concessions threaten essential public services…

RTFA. This is just a taste from a single article. Like the best forums, particularly internationally chartered, a pretty wide range of viewpoints is on display in Davos, this year.

If, like Donald Trump, you think you’re better off ignoring the discussion, then, I’d suggest President Xi’s response to that concept: “Pursuing protectionism is like locking yourself in a dark room, which would seem to escape the wind and rain, but also block out the sunshine and air…”

The new abnormal

Bill Gross is sometimes called the Bond King. He’s one of the two economists who popularized the term, the New Normal. Describing everything from grudgingly slow recovery from the Bush Great Recession to ever-widening disparity in real income for working class folks versus the one-percenters.

Usually, nothing less than a Boston Bruins victory gets Tom Keene as animated as Bill Gross did. 🙂